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Vilakudy Days

Sunday, December 31, 2006

MR SADDAM, WE ARE SORRY


For once, I felt ashamed of BEING an Indian. On a cold morning while I was still fast asleep, when someone called up me and said Saddam Hussein, the former President of Iraq, not the Iraqi dictator, as foreign news agencies make us publish and believe, was hanged, I could not believe myself. Though the previous day, I read reports indicating his imminent hanging before the New Year. If the execution was sad, then India’s response was shocking. ‘Disappointed’. That one-word was India’s reaction to the murder of Saddam Hussein. Not that a 100-word stinging reaction would have mattered. But that would have made a difference. Saddam died a dog’s death. A man who loved India and Indians. A man who steadfastly supported India’s causes during all major crises. It was only Saddam who came out with open support when the Kashmir issue was discussed at the OIC conferences. He had great respect for the late Indira Gandhi, whom he called the “Iron Lady and “his sister”. Saddam’s Iraq was the only country which stood by India when the Babri Masjid was brought down by a bunch of hooligans. There were no Muslim or Hindu sentiments in that. Iraq was the only secular country, where women partied, wore whatever they liked, watched movies. There was no space for fundamentalism. He loved India. India played safe right from the moment he was pulled out of a rabbit hole by a jackal-supported Kangaroo government. His mock trial continued; he was tortured. India maintained a deafening silence. More than a poor Iraq, we wanted a richer US. Our foreign policy (if any) is in tatters. That is why watched the drama silently. Ordinary men and women shared the pain. But, where was Manmohan Singh? Where was Pranab Mukherjee? Where was the official India?
In Bombay, where I EXIST, nothing happened. Everything was normal. Or they were busy welcoming, partying for the New Year. Or they were busy thinking ways to make more money in the New Year. I was shocked even by the absence of an animated discussion or a serious talk over the execution. But I felt proud of a small state, where I was lucky to have born and brought up, in the tip of our country. It was Kerala, where I LIVE. It again showed the world that it is truly an International state. Whether in maintaining health standards, or in rural development or the human development index. Kerala went into a State mourning when the news was flashed by news channels. The state went into a bandh-like mode. In many places, nobody asked shopkeepers to keep the shutters down. They did on their own. Kerala was seething in anger. The number of calls I got from various parts of the state was a testimony to that. All parties, except the characterless BJP (if at all it can be counted as a party), organized protest marches across the state. George Bush was hanged and burnt in effigy. Everyone shed a tear or two. Fishermen refused to go to sea. Some fishermen dumped back all their day’s rich catch back into the sea in protest. They decided they would mourn their hero for the next four days by not going to the sea. On the famous Saddam beach in Parappangadi, women descended and wailed as if they lost a family member. Shattered Sivasankara Pillai, who had been to Iraq and felt the warmth of Saddam on many occasions, could not even speak on TV. The Citibank outlet in Kochi was stoned. Had there been a US consulate in Kerala, someone would have burnt it down. I wish it were. Unlike its Centre counterpart, the Kerala government lashed out at the US and Bush. Achuthanandan, Kerala’s luminous Chief Minister, led from the front and ripped the US government apart. So many others followed. I always carried my love for India on my sleeves. But this muted, spineless response even after a close friend’s death was a shock to me. Even after death, India owes an apology for that. But I was proud that Kerala did the damage control the way it could. For once, I was proud to declare that I am a proud Keralite than an Indian. Yet, on a larger picture, I bow my head in SHAME.

24 Comments:

Blogger Pentimento said...

Saddam was an evil man, who butchered his own countrymen to stay in power. Since I do not believe in capital punishment, I do not condone Saddam's hanging. Instead, I would have preferred to let Saddam rot in prison for the rest of his life. I would have urged his jailers to replay all the old videotapes, showing his hedonistic lifestyle from yester years. That would have been punishment enough in my books.

6:42 AM  
Blogger vilakudy said...

Such a punishment could have been at least justified. But what rights does the hegemonic US have to punish the 'hedonistic' Saddam? Leave Saddam, who is responsible for the deaths of innocent Iraqis, who perished during the invasion of such a culture-rich country?

6:54 AM  
Blogger Pentimento said...

Vilu, Vilu, Vilu. YOu just don't invade other countries just because you want to fill the coffers of your own country OR start a war with another country (read Iran) to show your tribe's superiority(read Sunni). Even Buddha, who started out as a warring prince on a rampage, wisened up after seeing the death and destruction of his enemy. He embraced non-violence and redeemed himself. What are Saddam's redemptive qualities? I do not agree with the US's foreign policy during the Cold War, how it nurtured men like Saddam to keep Iran and Syria in line thereafter. Saddam may have liked India because as usual we as a country decided to hide our collective head in the sand and "ignore" his atrocities. I am sure if sis Indira were alive today, she would have a few choice words to say to her 'bro'.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Danto said...

Saddam was no angel. But the US could have handled him better.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Shobha said...

Well, as Danto said, they could have dealt with him in a better manner. I am against death penalty and I feel he shouldn't have been given capital punishment. This execution in all probability widen the strife between the Shias and the Sunnis in Iraq. Just hope that there is no civil war.
But Anna, just because he *LOVED* India so much, cannot make us blind to the atrocities he committed. He was a cruel monster, you can't disagree. However, i guess you are looking from a nationalistic perspective and I am not, that's the only difference :)

8:08 AM  
Blogger mickeymouse said...

Tell u something... i never supported US invasion of Iraq and i thought it was wrong.. completely wrong..so guess that even goes for treatment of saddam by the US.. they have no ***** right to do what they did.. but like u said there is no one to voice their protest over such atrocities.. a lot of ppl would say that saddam was a dictator and so he deserved to be hanged.. lemme tell u something it is for the ppl of his country to decide that and not for Brainy Bush.. nobody cares coz if someone did US would have pulled out its troops by now.. am surprised newspapers in India still publish the news abt US casualties like they are the only ppl who die.....hello what abt thousands of innoncent Iraqis who have died at the hands of the americans..........

9:18 AM  
Blogger navan said...

everything seem so hazy to me, if at all i am sure of something, it is that evil and good do not have proper boundary lines as they used to teach us when we were young. when we grow up we learn the world is more of grey and of a mixed hue rather than black and white. Saddam was no angel, some would say, what about the gassing of Kurds? And Bush.Who is he to poke his nose in the Arab world?
Bush is one of the biggest butcher the world has ever seen, forget Hitler or Stalin. Still we call US a democratic country, where an individual's freedom is honoured most. But how democracy degenerated into a political system in which wealth generation and cut throat, savage corporate instincts overshadowed egalitarian principles is something i cannot understand. Hunger for oil and development of their huge arms industry, these were the only forces that drove US to Iraq. On the other end of the spectrum we have Communism, and there was a time when Communists looked liked gods, working for the betterment of the working class, the poor people. But ask any Tibetan and for them Communists are people who destroyed their temples and drove them away from their homelands. Or ask the Soviet people about how their dear ones suddenly disappeared in the middle of the night never to come back, during the time of Stalin. Ideologies, how do they become infected?In the beginning, iam sure, all religions were also pure and innocent:-) ok, talking about Saddam, yes, it was bad. Today they released some clippings on the net about some shias celebrating in the background when the noose tightened around his neck. Some US army official reportedly said he will order an enquiry into how the recording was put in the net.No doubt, it is all a game played by the US. This is eerily similar to the way the Britishers played Hindu-Muslim cards during freedom struggle. They just want to fan the Shia-Sunni rivalry into a full-fledged, bloody war. Of course, to their own advantage.

9:07 AM  
Blogger vilakudy said...

SURPRISED by a flurry of comments. The argument is never whether Saddam was a saint or not. It is about how a country was torn apart; how its president was dethroned and hanged; and all that by a hegemonic country. Was Saddam a saint or a devil? It has to be decided by the Iraqi people. Not the Uncle Sam. Imagine this: An angry India invades Sri Lanka for all the crimes against Tamils. Dethrone the government, and hang its President and Prime Minister. Then make LTTE chief Prabhakaran the President. How will we react to such a development if at all that happens? How will Bangladesh react to it? Something similar has happened in Iraq.

Then, India always had a solid foreign policy. We had firm views on every international event. No matter it affected us or not. But the last 10 years, India became a 'smart' nation. The BJP government initiated the process, the Congress completed it. Our foreign policy has undergone a seachange. Natwar Singh and Manishankar Aiyar, who had a slight anti-US stance, were thrown out of the govt citing different reasons. Things have turned in such a way that even our domestic policies are being discussed in the corridors of the White House. The nuclear deal is the best example. The deal was cleared despite being opposed by our own nuclear scientists, who indigenously made us a nuclear country. You know, we have become a smart country. And “smart’ people don’t have time for some despots being hanged in some remote parts of the country; some being tortured; and some third-world country being attacked. We have better things to discuss: Will Ash finally marry Abhisekh? When will Wallmart make an entry? We are smart, you know?

4:36 AM  
Blogger Pentimento said...

Vilu, I believe in a world without boundaries. I believe in a world where people would discuss and mediate problems and egos would not supercede the common good. I believe in a world where there are no class divisions, race divisions, caste divisions and gender divisions. I believe in a world where the strong protect the weak, where the rich share their largesse, and good prevails over evil. I believe in a prefect world, AND I know that Utopia only exists in my dreams.
Having said that, I refuse to share a tear for tyrants like Nero, Caesar, Alexander, the Muslim invaders of the latter centuries, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Adi Amin, Zia ul Haq, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. These men were great in their own right, worshipped like Gods and despised like Satan. They were all fervent nationalists, great leaders and no one could question their strong love for country, and their driving need to extend their race and religion. But, were they good human beings? What makes anyone a decent human being?
I believe that we should first strive to be decent citizens of the World, just not your country. Would you gas, murder and rape your neighbour just because you do not agree with him or her ideologically? Would you cheer on when Hindus and Muslims kill each other on streets of Mumbai or any other city where you live? Would you remain remote and unmoved when people starve and die of thirst? Would you maintain a stoic silence when gangs lynch and murder the disenfranchised, the poor and the weak of any country?
What has happened in Iraq, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Koreas, Europe, Africa transcends nationality.
I think as Indians we should stop living with the NIMBY effect: (Not in my backyard, so who gives a damn). If Indians were to shine as enlightened world citizens, we need to change our mindset and tune in to the suffering and malaise plaguing this planet. That MEANS we have to poke our noses where they do not belong, without throwing our weight around or sounding morally superior.
I saw a movie once where a Buddhist Monk shares his thoughts about the US with one of his followers. He said, “Those magnificent Americans. They have all that power, and have no wisdom about what to do with it”. There is much to like about America. Believe me; I lived among them during the most formative years of my life. I have studied with them, shared a meal with them, cried with them, and was comforted by them during some of the most trying times of my life. I can’t speak about Bush, but the Americans I know and grew up with are NOT arrogant. Far from it. A majority are caring, sentimental, decent human beings. The issue of Iraq has torn that country apart, and done a tremendous amount of damage to their free-loving, freedom-seeking, free speech and liberty to all philosophy. And those adjectives apply to most Indians, striving to be decent too.

6:42 AM  
Blogger mickeymouse said...

But pentimento, u are missing the whole point...u say Saddam was a tyrant... agreed..But then US always supported tyrants..u say Iraq had no right to invade Iran.. but then it was US who funded Iraq's invasion.. it was with US weapons they bombed their neighbour.. that too when Bush's father was in power....so who's the fox here..

7:37 AM  
Blogger Shobha said...

Well, let me make myself a bit more clear this time. I am against USA meting out any kind of punishment to the Iraqi dictator simply because they have no bloody right to. I am also against death penalty simply because I think one does not have any right tot ake anyone's life, not even the state. However, all said and done, Saddam was no saint. I wouldn't feel bad for Saddam just cause he supported India with respect to the Kashmir issue. I feel bad for Saddam because he was denied a fair trial. The hudges were changed to suit the agenda of the dummy government and the USA. I feel bad for the Iraqi people sicne they are the ones who will have to bear the after-effects of his execution.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Pentimento said...

Dear MM, I am not blind to the US' foibles. Believe me, the Free Press there has roasted its leaders on their double standards and equally dubious policies. But why have you taken such as high moral ground? Check what India has done in terms of supplying the Mujahaddin in Afghanistan to fight Pakistan and Taliban at its borders, Indian-sponsored attacks in Pakistan and Bangladesh and separatist issue in Sri Lanka in terms of clandestine operations. Things are not as black and white as they appear. I don't believe in the death penality under any circumstances. I don't think Saddam should have been hanged. I don't care about whether the US handed him over to the Iraqis on a silver platter. What I do care about is that the world is without one more despot. Good riddance!

9:40 AM  
Blogger vilakudy said...

PENTIMENTO talks like a Pentagon spokesperson. Actually, the US does not need one. From international news agencies to TV channels, media houses are stooges. They disseminate what they are being asked to. To put it simply, Pentimento’s argument is: If a country does something wrong, the US has the right to interfere to bring justice. The US is a God to Pentimento and likeminded international citizens who are living in a “borderless world”. The US, the supreme force on earth, will select the erring countries and punish them. The US has been given the rights to invade countries and bring democracy there. That is the role of the US. That is her version or wish.

Pakistan has been ruling by a dictator called Musharraf, who overthrew a democratically elected government. The former Pak prime minister is in exile now. What did the US do? Palestine has been torn into pieces by Israel. Its people can’t even take a walk on the road. What did the US do? The US just did not interfere, but both Pakistan and Israel are its strongest allies. This does not mean that the US has to interfere here and clear the muddle. But why are the double standards? It simply does not have the right to intervene in another country’s internal affairs. If it is Kabul and Baghdad today, tomorrow it will be Kashmir and Jaffna tomorrow. The Last Word: I don’t have anything against Americans. In fact, it is an American citizen whom I admire the most among political scientists in the world. That is Noam Chomsky, who is a proud US citizen. I am against the successive US governments. Be it Bush or Clinton or the prospective Obama, the foreign policy will never change. It is in their blood. They don’t have even an own history to claim. They never understand the history of Iraq or Afghanisthan. I conclude with an interesting anecdote by Vinod Mehta in Outlook. It reads: “Don’t mess with Americans. We will bring democracy to your country.” Should I say more?

9:52 AM  
Blogger Sav said...

Don't miss the day they chose to kill him off -- a day before Bakrid. That's as insensitive as it gets.
I suppose Bush thought it would be a nice new year gift...

5:21 PM  
Blogger Be Left or be gone said...

Sad-Dammed. We as Indian mourn as Asia seaths in anger. Was he a devil? Did he deserve the noose? Let's not draw parallels. In a republic, soverignity is of paramount interest. And any challenge to it was, is and will be twarted with an iron fist. Is that any justification to what Saddam did to Kurds? Media abounds with gory stories of what Saddam did to Kurds. Saddam was demonised to be the architect of the war with Iran. But why did even Iran morn his death?
Well let me answer all my questons now. What was the threat Washington faced from Baghdad? Bush fooled his citizens into beleiving that impoverished Saddam had a nuke. So threat to soverignity treat goes for a toss. And all the subsequent arguements to justify his death sentence.
As an Indian I feel bad, that the spineless government was left in a Catch-22 situation. But what hurts me most was what the Left did. Other than a Politbureau statement and protests in Delhi and Kerala (the case is different there because of citizens with more sense). I remember attending a seminar as a student by the Communist Party head of Iraq in 1999. My question to him was an expression of shock that Communists lived in Iraq. The answer I got was the most enlightning one. The society seemed more plural than the demonic BJP government in Delhi that time.
Yanks beware, even Rome fell!!

10:42 AM  
Blogger vamanan said...

I felt ashamed that we choose to side with dictators like Saddam, Arafat and Castro. I am happy that Saddam got what he deserved. Whatever George Bush did does not make Saddam a lesser evil.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Unni said...

This is not to justify Saddam's execution.

But think of the atrocities he committed in Kuwait some 15 years back. It is us mallus who bore thr brunt of the attack as many of our families or relatives were stranded there. How much time did it take for normalcy to be restored ? Have we forgotten the trauma so many malayali families went through during that time - what the future held for them etc ?

So dont you think malayali's should be nonchalant towards his death rather than mourn as if somebody close died.?

Unni

3:06 PM  
Blogger vilakudy said...

Unni. I agree completely with you on this. That was an unforgettable experience for many Malayalee families. But does that mean that we should not condemn the hanging? I am not sure mashe.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Observer's Outpost said...

From the fact that he did organise mass killings, it is clearly evident that Saddam was no normal human being. He deserved to be punished for the crimes he perpetuated. HOWEVER, I did not want it to be carried out in the hasty way it was. I agree with PENTIMENTO when he says: "I would have preferred to let Saddam rot in prison for the rest of his life. I would have urged his jailers to replay all the old videotapes, showing his hedonistic lifestyle from yester years."

10:06 AM  
Blogger Observer's Outpost said...

From the fact that he did organise mass killings, it is clearly evident that Saddam was no normal human being. He deserved to be punished for the crimes he perpetuated. HOWEVER, I did not want it to be carried out in the hasty way it was. I agree with PENTIMENTO when he says: "I would have preferred to let Saddam rot in prison for the rest of his life. I would have urged his jailers to replay all the old videotapes, showing his hedonistic lifestyle from yester years."

10:07 AM  
Blogger naranathubhrandan said...

I know it"s too late to comment on the issue,but i happened to come across this blog accidently and thought i should responde
America has always been a threat to developing Asian countries irrespective of the govt or political group which ruled.If at all this Imperialists help the third world countries ,its sole purpose is to exploit the resources.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Manu said...

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11:03 PM  
Blogger Denver Clousto Roche said...

well said !!! I lived in Iraq and once had a privilege of meeting him. He loved kids very much.. I'm really angry with the wrong step that Evil America took.. May the burn in hell. Rip dear Saddam sir.. We will miss you forever..

8:40 AM  
Blogger rainbows said...

Thank you for writing this article! Saddam was an amazing man! Had much respect for self-respecting women like Indira Ghandi and always loyal to whom he considered his friends unlike India unfortunately. Glad to read the citizens of Kerala are different and reciprocate Saddam's loyalty by showing they have a heart!

7:56 PM  

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